Q: "portagraion" -- a "mathematical instrument" circa 1745?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Feb 5 20:04:57 UTC 2006

At 2:04 PM -0500 2/5/06, Douglas G. Wilson wrote:
>>What is a "portagraion", in the following quotation from 1745?  I've
>>done my best in OED2 and googling with various possible
>>spellings.  The mention just before of drawing pens suggests
>>"pantograph", but that's not close to what I see.
>>Stephen Greenleaf, Mathematical Instrument-Maker...;Makes and mends
>>all Sorts of Mathematical Instruments, as Theodolites, Spirit Levels,
>>Semicircles, Circumferences, and Protractors, Horizontal and
>>Equinoctal [sic] Sun Dials, Asimuth and Amplitude Compasses,
>>Elliptical and Triangular Compasses, and all Sorts of common
>>Compasses, drawing Pens and Portagraions...; with sundry other
>>Articles too tedious to mention.
>Probably = "port-crayon" (also "porto-crion") (French "porte-crayon")
>meaning a crayon holder (OED). "Crayon" was sometimes spelled "craion" (OED).
Mightn't this also be a pencil holder, given that Fr. _crayon_ is the
word for pencil?  I looked at the OED entry and it wasn't clear to me
which gloss would fit better--maybe both of them, depending on the


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